empty and self-indulgent

— REVIEW of ‘Soma’ | Heckler

Soma | Review

name not given | Heckler
22 Mar, 2013

It’s not often you come across an intentionally unsatisfying show, but then MKA’s Soma is a fairly unique piece of work. Named after the drug used to placate the denizens of the Aldous Huxley’s classic dystopian novel Brave New World, Soma is both brave and new, but rather painful to digest. The Melbourne-based MKA theatre of new writing have two quality efforts in 22 Short Plays and Unsex me running at this year’s Fringe, but they’ve made a bit of a misstep here.

Writer and performer Tobias Manderson-Galvin gamely attempts to illustrate how empty and mind-numbing modern life really is by, well, being as empty and mind-numbing as he can manage, tormenting audiences with drawn-out repetitive sequences that bail out of any kind of dramatic climax just before things get interesting.

An event early on in the show pretty much sums it up – Tobias plucked a woman out of the crowd, transformed her into the “patron saint of surfers” (with the help of some surfie clothes draped around her like a nun’s get-up), plonked her on a boogie board and then got the audience on their feet and up to the front, ready to help her give new meaning to the term “crowd surfing”. Just as it all seemed about to kick off, Tobias threw a red handkerchief at his crowd surfer while tersely telling the room to go back to their seats as she’d been attacked by a shark. He then sent the fresh shark attack victim offstage as well, proclaiming that the boogie board would from that point be representing her. Naturally enough, he proceeded to sexually molest the board in the most explicitly detailed way imaginable, all while looking into her eyes and recording it on his smartphone. Classy.

Overall, a show a little too clever for its own good, about as empty and self-indulgent as a night out on Soma itself – except with none of the blissed-out benefits.

“empty and self-indulgent”